The Herakleion Archaelogical Museum was built between 1937 and 1940, to designs by P Karantinos. The site had been occupied during the Venetian Period by an imposing Catholic monastery of St. Francis, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 1856. The Museum houses archaelogical finds from all over Crete. Pride of place goes to the treasures of the earliest European civilization, the Minoan, which can here be admired in all its historical continuity.
The present display was organized between 1951 and 1964 by N. Platon and St. Alexiou, both Ephors of Antiquities. The order in which the exhibits are presented is based on the chronological development of the Minoan civilization and reflects both the history of the excavations and the major discoveries made on Crete at the beginning of the century (palaces at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, ets.). The exhibition contains objects mainly from central and east Crete, covering 5500 years of Cretan History.
A visit to the Historical Museum of Crete will bring to life the history and culture of Crete, from the first centuries of the Christian era to present time. Medieval and Renaissance Collection Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish sculpture and inscriptions: frescoes from the 13th to the 16th centuries; portable icons of the Cretan School from the 15th to the 18th centuries; ecclesiastical vessels and vestments; wood carvings; icons; jewellery and miniatures from the Byzantine and Venetian periods. The collection contains the only painting on Crete by Domenicos Theotocopoulos (El Greco): View of Mount Sinai and the Monastery, c. 1570.
Memorabilia from the Cretan insurrections of the nineteenth century and the period of the Independent Cretan State (1898-1913). The collection includes flags, weapons and portraits of insurgent leaders.
Hundreds of representative examples of Cretan folk art (weaving, embroidery, lace, jewellery, small objects, musical instruments, etc.). A life-size replica of the interior of a traditional Cretan village home